Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged

 

Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.

©

 

Cookies, Crumbles, and Meltdowns

I have been saying recently that I would like this blog to take a new turn, and to perhaps broaden it’s horizons; I’d like it to go on, and become a blog about food, as I learn to cook it, too. I’m not too focused on a subject for this blog, however, food would like to be something I include within it’s parameters.

So, the day before yesterday, I made cookies. I’ve never been much of a cookie baker, or indeed a baker of any kind. I make tray-bakes, but muffins are simply not my friend. I overwork the gluten, and sort of make sweet-bread. But cookies? Well, my black and white ones seem to be getting every time I make them, and I’ve made quite a few batches lately. I quite enjoy making cookies. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it’s kind of a childish pleasure; there’s something wonderfully juvenile about cookies, and their association with milk.

And who doesn’t love the cookie monster?! (1)

Anyway, the baking is going well; the muffins made me cry a bit, because of the gluten situation, and I couldn’t find a way to remedy it. I’ve made a few batches now, to absolutely no avail. I’d like to think that practice makes perfect; Saint Delia would certainly agree.

I made myself an omelette for breakfast, and I know that that sentence seemed rather, well, pointless. The trouble with my omelette was that I couldn’t quite manage to execute the folding; the folding seemed to be a skill that was just beyond my comprehension, and the problem was further compounded when I realised that my book, that was telling me how to make the omelette, was hovering dangerously close to the gas ring. So then I kind of panicked, a little bit, and turned off the hob, thinking that if I were to burn the house down whilst making brunch, my Mum would be more than a tad upset.

Anyway, I managed a kind of open-faced omelette, and I filled the middle with smoked ham and tomato, and added a small sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top, but not too much to make it a cellulite trap. (I’d already been to the gym before brunch, and so I was feeling a little bit virtuous). I also added a touch of basil to the egg mix, with lashings of salt and black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. I think that I should take out shares in the company; I go through absolutely tonnes of the stuff, because it’s almost as versatile as Worcester Sauce, in terms of flavour, and adding something of an undercurrent.

Anyway, I have to go now. I have to buy my little sister a birthday balloon, and I have to get dressed for work. I hate getting dressed for work, but there it is. I suppose I’d look strange waitressing in shorts and a vest top. Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.

(:

(1) http://fortheloveofcookies.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/orig-14366331.jpg

©

 

 

On the Action Novel

Now, Robert Ludlum is one of my favourite authors. He is not highbrow, or snooty, but he is wonderfully engaging, creates a watertight story line  and writes about it in an addictive manner. I love the way he communicates, and I like the pacing of his novel. Pacing in an action novel is very, very important; otherwise the ‘action’ is lost, and there is a stilted novel, without much progression, which quickly becomes a boring novel; you know, the kind that you use to prop open doors, hold your laptop up when the fan breaks, etc.

And no author wants to write that book. Not a book that exists purely to support other objects.

(1)

Action novels are not just Mr Ludlum’s domain, however. Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, and more recently Lee Child, have all broken into the action novel genre. Mr Child has done especially well for himself, and from his amazon.co.uk pages, seems to be churning out novels at an alarming rate of one every forty-two seconds. Now, I’m not convinced that a novel, or that number of novels, can be written well and so quickly, but then again the man might just be a superhuman writer. Since I haven’t experienced a novel of his yet (although my Dad has, and he seems to be devouring them), I am in no position to judge.

I like these novels because they are designed to be easy, and uncomplicated, at least not in the intellectual sense. They contain interesting plots, many of which I think are echoed throughout international history, and there are many ideas that come from real life events; things that really happened. I think because our access to MI6 records, and FBI records, etc, is so limited, we never really know what happened, and the novels open up a kind of phantom door, to a world that the common person isn’t allowed to inhabit.

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a spy. Like James Bond. But female, and I’d do it in some crazy ball gowns, and slinky slit-up-the-side dresses. I’d also be wearing red stilettos, and be really slinky. I know now that this is kind of a long dream away, but the principle is there. Action novels give you ideas, and they make you feel like anybody could defuse a bomb, or that anyone could be a part of an underground resistance movement, or go undercover in a dictatorship.

It’s all about escaping somewhere that isn’t your everyday, boring world; it’s not about shopping in supermarkets, and arguing with a boyfriend. It’s about fighting for things, and pretending that you are something incredible, life-changing, unstoppable. That’s why on the beach, holding a Martini, you feel like you can do anything. You see, it’s a heady concoction, alcohol and action novels.

(:

(1) http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRbxJ4G4FpZ-5DQ2oGHb8_CRTdKj9BHoIlxqR1zqyqzfOTqBOOpSQ&t=1

©

A Modern Cinderella Story

It’s my first day off in a week, so I thought I’d have a nice lazy breakfast. I made scrambled eggs on a bagel, and had a little greek yoghurt, blackberries and honey. I was sat at my laptop, reading a variety of articles on the news, when I stumbled across a story about a seventeen year old boy who was talent spotted by a fashion scout, plucked from obscurity, and made the face of the infamous fashion house, Prada. I was astonished, frankly. You can read the story here

Alexander Beck (1)

A cinderella story that really, seems to have happened. I mean, the boy worked in his local fish and chip shop. And then found himself modelling haute couture. That’s really not something that happens everyday. In fact, it happens hardly anywhere. The whimsy of the whole situation is kind of amusing; he was found whilst out shopping one day, in Waterstones. That’s not just something that will happen to anyone; that’s the kind of things that makes you into kind of, a somebody. It must be an unbelievable shock; to go from dressing for school in ten minutes, to the make up and glitter, fittings and so on. The world he had known must have quite literally, exploded around him. But it must have been completely, and utterly, incredible.

I like hearing these stories, because they remind you that there is some hope; if it can happen to a guy who works in a chip shop, it could happen to the shy little girl in glasses, and it could happen to you, because well, why the hell not? I like the idea of looking like somebody, and just suddenly, being a major player in the model world. It would be any little girl’s dream. And there are thousands of models who spend years of their lives applying to agencies like FM, and are constantly told that they don’t have ‘the right look’. There’s no such thing as a ‘right look’, only a momentarily ‘right look’; but these girls and boys all live and die on what these agencies have to say about them. I suspect to have come so far, so fast, must be a dream come true, or just plain, blind, luck.

His shoots with Vogue Homme are supposed to be published in the spring, and I definitely cannot wait to see how he looks; Kate Moss was seventeen when she first broke out, too. Perhaps we’ve met our next Kate Moss. Fashion fans will know it’s kind of like a symbolic second coming of the Messiah; a sign of new blood, and a new way of looking at things.

(:

(1) http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSrfeGHAb7yDrl6Ze2wU-8MJM0FP9uRqqXosmmMvOPfyp3gVO5Jdb9oyLpI

©

I’m Late, Again, But I’m Not Sure What For…

So today I’ve been in a completely excellent, and wonderful mood. I’ve been a shiny happy person, bouncing about, making milkshakes for people, taking puppies for walks, going above and beyond for guests at work… All is well with the world. I like that; especially when you feel so good about yourself that you want to be nice to people. I like making people happy, if I can.

I’ve even managed to not eat rubbish, and I’ve been to the gym. I feel like a little superhero. I bought myself a preposterously extravagant new mid-year diary too. I love it, because it is just completely beautiful. The cover feels precious, and I’m one of those people who adores pretty stationary, and filling in the information in the front is quite possibly the most exciting thing, well, ever.

Everyone knows what I mean. The excitement of fresh paper can’t ever be rivaled by digital takeovers, and sometimes you must have a piece of equipment that doesn’t rely on a battery pack, or need an extra charger. Holding onto a physical object is quite comforting, and scribbling things down is satisfying. Ticking things off on a Blackberry simply isn’t as extravagant as scribbling it off with a pretty pen, in a pretty book. There’s a sense of romance surrounding the concept of the diary, and the ability to write in it. It is personal in a way that software is not.

This is of course, the trouble with all this eco-friendly work. There’s no romance in electricity, and there’s no personality in a Microsoft software package. Paper gave us a sense of age, and of character, because we used handwriting, and tucked our favourite photos inside them, and made them ours. OneNote is a fantastic academic program, and there’s no doubt that it has made my filing system much, much more efficient. But a pretty diary is special; it might be materialistic, and I’m sure that the environment objects to my using of a diary. But I cannot ignore such a prominent sense of nostalgia that I associate with beautiful paper, and colourful patterns. It’s a permanent record of a period of your life, and the fact we haven’t got time to write down our trivialities anymore is quite shocking.

Everything is to-go. I am always running about, thinking where I have to be next. We don’t really sit down, and just, well, be there. At least not without thinking about something else. There are a million to do lists tucked away inside my head. And I’m always planning a new project and most of the time I haven’t quite finished the first, which is why I have half a room dedicated to ‘graveyard of projects past’. There’s so much to do, and it seems like there’s so little time.

And I realise it’s terribly trivial, and that diaries do not create time. But seeing those pages spread out before you provides you with a sense of perspective; there is a physicality to when things will be done, and when you will be able to do things. I think that perspective is worth all the money in the world.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

- Oscar Wilde

©

Slutty Spaghetti, and Other Stories

(1)

Ack. That’s the only word to use to describe the last few days. Work has been terribly, terribly busy, and even this, my half day off, is turning out to be something of a tricky one. But anyway. I’ve made some serious progress on the domestic goddess front. For instance, I have learnt that there is in fact a right and wrong way to cook pasta, and rice. There ought to be a cup of rice to two cups of water when cooking. And on Wednesday I’m planning on making muffins or cookies, and something nice from the Nigella Lawson Kitchen book. It’s turning into a necessary part of the day. I think my Mum is enjoying all the cooking.

I rather want to make white chocolate and raspberry muffins. The trouble is, I haven’t got a recipe that doesn’t make me want to cry. If anyone has any recipes that are tried and tested, I’d be most appreciative!

Something else I tried last week; Slutty Spaghetti, or Spaghetti Puttanesca. I think the Slutty Spaghetti nickname has more of a ring to it than the latter, but there we go. The sauce was perfect, and the bitterness of the capers seemed to counteract the building heat of the chilli flakes. It wasn’t that difficult to make either, although the smell of fresh garlic is rather pervasive, and lasts for days afterwards. I think that might just be a kind of homely smell; the smell of home cooking, and not using powdered garlic. In culinary terms, it seems that garlic powder is akin to devil worship.

Because I have a house now, I will be able to put little plant pots on the window sill, or on the patio (it’s really odd, knowing you have your own patio, complete with furniture), and grow little fresh herbs. I draw the line at growing vegetables (I don’t like mud, and gardening, and I like having clean fingernails), but I like the idea of growing herbs.

I think I might try cooking some kind of chicken dish this week, or fish. Rick Stein has some excellent fish recipes, and I might see if I can make a decent jambalaya. I think my family would quite enjoy that, and I think my housemates will enjoy it, too. Y’know, as long as I don’t set fire to a griddle pan, or make the microwave explode. Whilst these things sound a little far-fetched to the normal, adult person, it’s all entirely possible if I happen to set food in the kitchen. This is because my clumsiness knows no bounds; just yesterday, I was carrying hot food at work, and my napkin slipped, and as I caught the dish, I touched a pan that had just come from under a red-hot grill. I seared my thumb, and I have a little blister for my trouble.

There’s little news from the literary sphere from me, at the moment, because I’ve been caught up in the wonders of domesticity, and learning things about cooking, and lifestyle. So that’s what might be cropping up more often on here; perhaps there’s a food blogger in me yet!

(:

(1) http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_KznaiPtvdRw/TMW_KSx14gI/AAAAAAAAAMs/ZOHD_OrJeG4/s1600/Kitchen+Nigella+Lawson.jpg

©

 

Sarah Alice Becomes a Domestic Goddess

 

Lately, I’ve decided that due to my new house, and to a certain extent, my Mum goading me into learning how to cook, I will have one of those houses that is always full of people, and food. I’m not an amazing cook; see the episode with the brownies. But with a degree of vigour, I decided to make learning some recipes into nothing short of a revision session; note writing, studying. Like I would study for an exam.

And so, like any British woman in times of great culinary trouble, I called on the services of Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater. I now own a wonderful volume called ‘How to Cook’, written by Delia Smith. And Delia Smith is my new domestic inspiration. She honestly has me believing that with a turn of the hand, I could summon up a casual three course dinner for eight people with homemade chutneys and apertifs to follow. The power of the woman is simple unbelievable.

Nigella Lawson as well, is just as inspiring. She doesn’t exude the same wholesome air as Delia, but she gives of a kind of naughty aura, as though cooking can be rebellious and exciting. I suppose that she wasn’t christened the queen of food porn for nothing. I always thought that this was more to do with her love of silk dressing gowns, as opposed to anything else, but I’m starting to think the connection here between food and sensuality extends beyond her choice of nightwear.

I’ve also been caught on several occasions lately scouring shops for place-mat sets and coasters (I’m happy to announce that I’ve found the perfect set). I seem to enjoy searching the internet for casserole dishes, something I never realised was a necessity. But according to the biblical writings of Delia, Nigella and Nigel, I think I’ll have to invest in one specially for my ventures into the culinary sphere.

I look like this everyday whilst I’m preparing dinner. (1)

So, last week, all this inspiration was going admirably, I was plodding on with my learning, and planning grown up dinners, and learning recipes for things like aromatic shoulders of pork. And then the unthinkable happened. I was struck down, (and down I did fall), with some kind of horrible stomach complaint. Everything hurt; the sides of my tummy were agonisingly painful, and the space between the bottom of my ribcage and my bellybutton felt horribly full, for want of a better word. I spent much of the morning facing the bottom of the toilet bowl. And after a distressing trip to the doctors, I had a shot of whatever they give you to halt the spontaneous volcanic eruptions, and things improved slightly.

However, all the resultant lying around in bed gave me plenty of time to ponder casserole dishes, and chocolate rum cake. And once I started feeling better a couple of days ago, I continued on my mission until I needed to take another nap, or eat another dry cracker. Which happened every two minutes. But then again, I suppose the path to perfection never ran smoothly.

(:

(1) http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/10/21/article-1322394-0BAEDB03000005DC-542_468x376.jpg

©

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Frustration

I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to hear the end of this Fifty Shades of Grey business, I will have to just read it. Bite the bullet; rip off the plaster. That kind of thing. Some of our fellow bloggers have condemned the latest literary craze, for being critically appalling, overusing colloquialisms, and following a theme that borders on the sexually deranged. So today I went to the supermarket and bought it.

And God help us, there’s two more…(1)

It’s sat upstairs in my bedroom like a ticking time-bomb. It’s staring up at me, on my bed. And I can’t quite bring myself to open the first page. I did randomly open the novel, to read only two words. “Holy crap.” This sentence, I must say, has not filled me with much hope. Neither has the description of ‘Mommy porn’. And neither has the theme of domination and submission. Sex scenes are rarely well written, and I have to hope that the critics have been wildly inaccurate about E.L James’s multi-million dollar novel.

That’s another problem, in itself. The fact that the novel was made for a multi-million dollar industry. Novelists in the nineteenth century never really concerned themselves with making millions through literature; they wrote in magazine supplements and were published in installments. There was no such thing as a one-hit wonder. If the first installment was unsuccessful then they wouldn’t be commissioned again. E.L. James wrote to shock, supposedly. But she didn’t write for love. This was almost certainly a case of love over money.

If anything, that’s what kind of offends me about modern novelists. There are two categories, really. The ‘people-pleasers’, and the people who write because they have something real and important to say. People do not tend to read the classics. They read purely for pleasure as opposed to education, and there is nothing wrong than that. It’s just that they’re missing out. And whilst I’m pleased that Mrs. James need never work again, I have a feeling that I’m going to be rather disappointed in her.

But time will tell; I’ll let you know how the project goes.

(:

(1) http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02251/shades-of-grey_2251523b.jpg

©

Writers Are Always Naked

A woman who built a whole sub-culture underneath a dress (1)

Today I’m feeling completely awful, because I’ve got yet another cold. Probably an airport souvenir. But there we go. I got my September issue of Vogue yesterday, so at least there’s some consolation. I’ve decided that instead of actually moving this morning, I can carry on writing. My head doesn’t hurt as long as I keep looking forwards, and not to the side. I was enjoying reading the catwalk show stuff, and reading about upcoming winter trends. Winter gives everybody an excuse to buy leather boots. I went through a two-year phase of wearing heeled boots every single day, with jeans. As a result, I have calves of steel, and six pairs of boots. Some people (especially my dad), would six is too many. However, you can never have too many pairs of shoes.

Clothes are people’s way of hiding things that they don’t like, and creating personas of their choosing. Wearing a sharp suit makes somebody more confident. A track suit is comfortable, but jeans can be as sloppy or as sensible as one would like. It’s all up to you, like wearing a shield. Even cashmere is like a protective layer, and it stops people seeing the soft and squishy bits.

Anyway, back to the task in hand. My novel. It’s going fairly well. I have ten chapters. I even have a rough idea of what might happen next. Not many people can say that. I wish I had somebody whom I could rely on for critical reading and suggestions, but allowing my friends to read it seems somehow like walking down the street naked. Letting people read your work is like letting them see you naked. That’s why I don’t very often publish poetry online, and it is why I tend to be less open about my novel to the people who actually know me. Do you beautiful writers understand what I mean?

There is something distinctly intimate about literature, and about writing as a whole. Literature can be a window into somebody’s innermost thoughts, but it can also be deceptively shallow. The depth of meaning can only be known to the author, and the meaning of a text is not something that he will ever have to reveal to an audience. Postmodernism toys with the idea of depth and surfaces, and becomes very much like cubism, or impressionism. What is there, and what is there not? There is no way of telling. You could get into a huge debate about the author function, and whether a novel exists because of it’s author or vice-versa. But in this [articular arena, where almost all of us are aspiring to be writers, screen writers, poets, everything, it seems unfair. Saying an author only exists as a story seems to almost void our own ideas of ourselves.

But there we have it. I am enjoying my own metaphorical nakedness. I might even consider letting other people see it, one day.

(:

(1) http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/images/marilyn_monroe_white_dress.jpg

©

My Impersonation of A Mosquito

There are few things as daunting as starting a new job, or a new work placement. It’s even more daunting starting a job in these modem days because work placements are like gold-dust, and if you are lucky enough to be interviewed for a job you’d actually like to take, well, that’s quite an achievement. And so it means that you will want to dig your fingernails into its epidermis, and cling on to it, like it’s a zip wire over a pool of starving sharks.

It’s better, and it’s worse, when its a job that you don’t intend on being in for the rest of your life. It’s better, because then you don’t worry so much about every career move. It’s worse because you are no closer to having the job of your dreams, and the experience you are gaining is irrelevant. All that is important in this situation is the capital generated. Because capital lets you do exciting things like master’s degrees, and trips around the world. And we all love round the world trips.

Finding even the smallest job these days is a massive triumph, because we’ve got more people than jobs, and less money than we have people. It’s all very financially complicated, but I am numerically illiterate. I have been known to spend a week’s rent on shoes, and I am (or at least can be) hideously financially irresponsible. Helpfully I have a guilt mechanism when I exceed a certain financial limit I set myself.

This made me laugh.(1)

Since yesterday morning, I’ve continued my greedy quest for what will be “GASP!”, my second job. Having two lives means I have two jobs. I have two bank accounts, and two sets of bedding, I have two gym memberships. I look like I’m running a B&B for twins.

Since my lastest new year’s revelation, I’ve decided that until I can get a job at the one hotel I’d like to work for, I’m going to email them weekly. I will also be phoning, and paying visits. Essentially so that they’ll realize that if they employ me, they’ll actually see less of me, thus creating a win-win situation. People these days, have to be resilient. Mosquitoes are still thriving, because they’re evil, soulless, persistent beings. Humanity needs a little more mosquito. Ask, ask, email, ask, telephone, ask, ask, telephone boss- to – be’s wife, ask, beg, ask, threaten, ask, ask… You get the point.

Aside from finding you incredibly irritating, any prospective employer will see that you are resilient, thick skinned, and persistent. If you actually went so far as to tell on the boss to his wife, then he will probably take out some sort of injunction against you. But then again, he might find bravery an admirable trait to. If anything, you’ll make an impression.

So, dear reader, the moral of the story is persistence. Perseverance. And the ability to act like a predator, stalking his prey. I’ve emailed this hotel about six times in as many weeks. The manager might be deleting my emails. But they’re going to keep cropping up like a serious skin disease, until the time he goes to a surgeon, and begs for the problem to be removed.

(:

(1) http://marketingforhippies.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/marketing_interview.png

©